adventures in academia, university life and other mischief

Category — Lists

How to save money while studying at UBC

Getting a higher education can be expensive, and if you’re cheap like me, you’re always on the lookout for ways to save money (and not be broke). Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way:


  • Bring your own travel mug and get 10-15% off coffee and other hot drinks at most locations at UBC. Be sure to make your own coffee/tea/hot chocolate before you leave home in the morning; you may not need a refill later!
  • Go vegetarian. It’s healthier, better for the environment, and cheaper. Bulk foods are your friends: brown rice, quinoa, beans and lentils. Support the UBC farm and get your fresh veggies locally.
  • DIY TV dinners: Do some bulk cooking over the weekend – save food into meal-sized portions, put into ziplock contains and freeze until ready to eat. Meal ideas: lasagna (make a huge tray, freeze into portions), soups, stews, rice stir-frys. Re-heat by microwaving at the SUB or your faculty’s building. Will keep in the freezer for awhile.
  • Pack snacks if you’re the snacking type, and avoid those moment-of-weakness vending machine purchases they lead you to pay way more for an item. If you’re the candy bar type, stock up on them at the dollar store. If you’re looking for healthier alternatives, consider packing crackers, nuts, fruit, carrot sticks, granola bars and/or trail mix.
  • Walk to the UBC village food court (exercise + saving money = win!) instead of eating at more central areas around campus. In my experience, the food is both better and cheaper.
  • Eat a free lunch every Friday. Bring your own container to school and visit Sprouts (in the basement of the SUB) for a delicious vegetarian meal between 11:30-1:30. For more info: Sprouts Community Eats.
  • Follow free food UBC on twitter. Someone is always giving out something free on campus. Get the details sent directly to your phone.
  • Never pay for hot or cold water again. There is no reason to buy bottled water on campus when UBC offers free filtered water. For cold water, look for the big blue stations in the SUB, in the Buchanan A building, in Swing and in many other locations across campus. For hot water, the Arts lounge in Buchanan D has a water dispenser that dispenses both hot and cold water (use the red tap for hot), and I’m told that Abdul Ladha has a couple kettles in their lounge as well.


  • Do your research and shop online. Is your textbook mandatory? Is it available online (pdf)? Do websites like AbeBooks and carry it for way cheaper than the UBC bookstore? Ordering online has saved me anywhere from 10-40 dollars on textbooks in the past and can definitely be worth it. Everything adds up!
  • Have you checked the UBC used book store yet? They carry a lot of textbooks at discount prices. In my experience, their textbook prices have not been as good as online prices elsewhere, but they’re unbeatable in terms of lab coats and goggles!
  • Are your textbooks available in course reserves? If you spend a lot of time studying in the library, consider just using the library’s copy of your textbook instead of buying it. This method has literally saved me over $500 in textbooks over the years.
  • Buy used in “excellent condition”. This means no marks, dents, highlights or writing. If you buy used in excellent condition, you can often resell the textbook at the same price you bought it for. Check craigstlist and SaveOnBook.


  • Take the bus. You’d think this would be a given, but a lot of people drive to school even though they’re paying $120/semester for the UPass. Unless you live far away, it may not be worth it to drive. Aside from gas prices and parking, it’s also a loss of time – when you bus, you’re free to spend your commute studying for your classes or doing assigned reading instead of focusing on the road.
  • If you must drive, park smart. Parking at UBC is astronomical and often, you end up far from the majority of your classes anyways. Try parking anywhere just outside the UBC campus and taking the next bus in. It’s usually only a quick 15 min bus ride in, and the parking is free.
  • Carpool to school. If you know people in your area who also go to UBC and have similar class schedules, it can be worth it to carpool to school if you really don’t want to bus the whole way. Bonus points if you guys carpool + park just outside campus!

Do you have any tips for saving money while studying at UBC?

March 8, 2013   2 Comments

How to make the most of reading break

Congratulations on making it to The Week That Is Supposed To Make Up For That Time We Were Forced Back To School The Day After New Years Day, Instead Of A Week Later Like Everyone Else! If you’re hoping to do at least one productive thing this coming week, this list is for you.

For your health:

  • Regulate your sleep schedule.
    Take this time to start going to bed at a decent hour and catch up on those missed hours of sleep due to late night (or all night) exam cramming and paper writing.
  • Start an exercise habit.
    If you’re anything like me, the biggest barriers to exercising regularly are not just a lack of time and energy, but also the fact that it isn’t a regular occurrence to begin with. Challenge yourself to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day this week and start a habit of exercise.

For your sanity:

  • Do some pre-cooking.
    If you’re in the habit of bringing lunches to school, why not take this week to do some bulk cooking? You can separate your bulk cooking into meal-sized portions, pack them away in ziplock containers and freeze them until needed. Saves future time and money.
  • Clean your bedroom/dorm/apartment/house.
    Because you know you probably won’t have the time or the motivation to do it once classes are back in session.
  • Do one thing off your procrastination list every day.
    Maybe you have avoided updating your resume, looking for jobs, writing that email, paying those bills, bringing your car in for a tune up, clipping your dog’s nails, etc, etc. Whatever those things are, make a list to identify them, then do one item each day this week.

For your social life:

  • Reconnect with friends and family.
    Take this time to catch up on quality time with the friends and family you haven’t seen in awhile. (Which is—let’s be honest—probably everyone who doesn’t go to UBC.)
  • Try something new.
    Hot yoga. Painting. Bike the seawall on a sunny day. Paper journalling. Knitting. Peruse the street carts downtown. Drop-in pottery class. Visit Vancouver Island. Roadtrip to Whistler. Day trip to Washington state. Go the aquarium or science world. Be more bold and get out of your comfort zone. Bonus points if you try something new with a friend, or make a new friend while trying something new!

For your academic life:

  • Get caught up on your readings.
    I don’t know a single person who isn’t behind on their readings going into reading week, so I guess they named this break well.
  • Get ahead of your readings.
    Imagine how great it would feel to be sitting in class, already familiar with the material your prof is about to lecture on. How much more would you learn in that class if you did your readings before coming to class, instead of after? Remember that feeling and use it to motivate yourself to read ahead for the week following reading break.
  • Do one thing that will set you ahead for next week.
    This can be anything from coming up with the thesis for your term paper or completing webwork that isn’t due until next Thursday. Whatever it is, getting a head start on future tasks will help ease your workload when you get there.

How are you planning to spend reading week?

February 17, 2013   1 Comment